Orchestration, Automation and Programmability: The Triple Threat for Networking


For years, there have been solutions that provide one or two of the three capabilities needed to help organizations gain a competitive advantage. But every so often, we see the rise of a solution that includes what I like to call the triple threat in networking. Of course, when it comes to networking, I feel that when it comes to helping accomplish what’s next, or the next generation of, or the new standard in, or whatever it is, that the solution is NETCONF and YANG network programmability powered by ConfD. Before you stop reading, hear me out here…

The industry as a whole has been discussing how to get greater control of the network through automation for quite a while now. I have been in the industry for 30+ years and the conversation pre-dates my working experience. Even though computer networks were just emerging back then, there was a need for automation from day one. The quest of automation isn’t new and just by looking around you can see that it is a major part of most network deployments or updates today. We have seen customers get real value from automation as a result of drastically reduced operational expenditures. We have also seen the network and its infrastructure be more reliable as a result of automation as well as transactions. (Transactions are a story for another day.) Automation really is making “good things” happen in the network.

In the past, we had the swivel chair cowboys. They would get the hard copy work order and then would wheel their chair from keyboard to keyboard. The time from customer order to the deployment of a new service took a long time. They needed to find the best way to automate and impellent orchestration. They just wanted to make this stuff happen automatically; but, how does this happen?

Jump ahead to today and we find many service providers have been automating and implementing orchestration. An example of orchestration is when someone buys a new service like VPN provisioning. When IT goes to purchase this new service they include the key parameters to make sure it functions as expected. So, how does the network operator automate this service deployment by taking the device-agnostic service parameters and turning them into a network-specific configuration that is tied to specific devices? The answer is programmability.

The real performer that makes actual automation and orchestration happen in the network is programmability. Programmability makes it possible to send commands and parameters to make everything happen and gets the configuration that is needed directly into the device. Also, tied to all of this programmability is the use of open standards to ensure the data changes and elements work together in a common way. Our experience has shown that NETCONF and YANG are the best way to accomplish this.

There is a term out there: DevOps – the way of looking at operating networks using software development approaches is what this is all about. The enabler of that is the programmability of the network and the devices. With this, we can apply proven software development methods to programming the network. This is the key to being able to bring in automation and orchestrate the network.

At the end of the day, programmability is the key to ensure that everything that has to be accomplished in the network not only gets done and but also gets done right. I believe that we are well past the early adoption of these standards, but there is still increasing momentum in adoption, and I expect to see network programmability enabled by NETCONF and YANG to become even more mainstream going forward.

Learn how ConfD delivers the programmability you need: https://www.tail-f.com/management-agent/

Leave a Reply

Notify of